19 December 2013 A locust control programme launched in Madagascar is making progress against an invasion of the voracious insects that is threatening rice and maize crops but requires an additional $17 million for the next two phases, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.
The three-year programme jointly prepared by FAO and the Government has already produced results against the invasion of the Malagasy Migratory Locust that began in April 2012 and which has damaged crops and discouraged farmers in affected areas from planting.
On 30 November, after less than one month of control operations, hopper bands and groups of locust adults have been killed on almost 50,000 hectares, FAO stated in a news release.
“We are using helicopters and vehicles to carry out survey and control operations,” Said Lagnaoui, FAO’s locust campaign coordinator, stated. “We are using different pesticides chosen to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible.”
An FAO-World Food Programme (WFP) mission conducted in June/July 2013 found that as many as 4 million people in rural areas of Madagascar were food insecure following the 2012/2013 reduced harvest and another 9.6 million people were at risk of food insecurity.
The locust invasion was one of the factors for the poor agricultural season, according to the mission, which also blamed erratic weather conditions last year and cyclones early this year followed by a period of poor rains.
A total of $26.3 million in support of the locust programme have been provided so far by the Government of Madagascar through a World Bank loan, Austria, Belgium, the United States, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), France, Italy, Norway and the European Union.
Mr. Lagnaoui said the first year of the locust campaign was fully funded, but that there was a funding gap of about $17.7 million to cover the second and third years. Funds pay for, among other things, aerial survey and control operations; improving the monitoring and analysis of the locust situations; and monitoring and mitigating the impact of control operations on human health and the environment.
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